DEV Community

Kim CH
Kim CH

Posted on

Move docker-desktop-data distro out of System Drive

By default, Docker Desktop for Window will create 2 distros below

  • docker-desktop
  • docker-desktop-data

If we access the path %LOCALAPPDATA%/Docker/wsl; we can see 2 folders; and inside it is vhdx file. For detail,

  • data/ext4.vhdx which is consumed by docker-desktop-data
  • distro/ext4.vhdx which is consumed by docker-desktop

In which, docker-desktop-data is used to store images and so on. Therefore, its size will be increased in the future, consequently, our System Drive will be out of space. Below are step-by-step to move docker-desktop-data out of System Drive, for example, E:\docker-desktop\data.

Step 1: Stop Docker

Step 2: Export, unregister then import distro

1- Shutdown all WSL distros

wsl --shutdown
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

2- Export docker-desktop-data to tar file

wsl --export docker-desktop-data E:\docker-desktop\docker-desktop-data.tar
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

3- Unregister current docker-desktop-data distro

wsl --unregister docker-desktop-data
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

4- Import docker-desktop-data distro from tar file

wsl --import docker-desktop-data E:\docker-desktop\data E:\docker-desktop\docker-desktop-data.tar --version 2
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode


  • In this step, we may meet the error of cannot create a specific network. Just re-run the import command.

Step 3: Start Docker


Top comments (14)

brianhvb profile image
Brian Houle • Edited

This seemed to move %LOCALAPPDATA%\Docker\wsl\data\ext4.vhdx, but left %LOCALAPPDATA%\Docker\wsl\distro\ext4.vhdx in place, which is currently in use by Docker Desktop.

Is there a way to export/move this to a different drive as well?

cesarchamal profile image
Cesar Chavez

You can do the same thing but change for docker-desktop

wsl -l -v
wsl --shutdown docker-desktop
wsl --export docker-desktop E:\docker-desktop\docker-desktop.tar
wsl --unregister docker-desktop
wsl --import docker-desktop E:\docker-desktop\distro E:\docker-desktop\docker-desktop.tar --version 2

jotcomponents profile image

Thanks very much for the procedure. It is working on Win11 WSL2. But before 'Step3: Start Docker' it was necessary to restart Win (as it is also recommended in 'Resource#2 Moving Docker wsl files').
Remark: Resource#1 link is no more valid.

alexvovk profile image

Very helpful! Thank you!

khashashin profile image
Yusuf Khasbulatov • Edited

After I moved the docker-desktop-data (ext4.vhdx) All my folders under /mnt folder was empty.

bernardbr profile image
Bernardo Esbérard

Thanks man! You've helped me a lot... :D

mustafakurkcu profile image
Mustafa Kürkcü

Thank you

arvindd profile image
Arvind Devarajan

Hey, thank you for this! Good hint :-)

sd2020bs profile image

thank you, man!

willemodendaal profile image
Willem Odendaal

My C drive thanks you!

jeyaramj profile image
Jeyaram Jeyarajah

Thanks a lot. This helped me a lot. I was so close to partitioning my pc to use more space in C :D and found this page..

minhlong profile image

Thank you so much, it helped me so much.

maxoyed profile image

Thanks a lot, that saved my C drive!

azadnezamdoust profile image

Thank you Kim.